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Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays Paperback – September 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995) distinguished himself as an economist, writing a major treatise on theory, several important economic histories, and a highly praised history of economic thought. But he was also known as the pioneer thinker of libertarianism, the political philosophy that roots freedom in private property ownership and decries the state as inherently contrary to the ethics of a free society. Writing from this perspective, he gained a reputation as the most provocative and influential contributor to the anarchist tradition in our century.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute; 2nd edition (September 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933550902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945466239
  • ASIN: 0945466234
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jackson on April 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Murray Rothbard was one of the most important thinkers in recent memory. He made substantial contributions to economics, political theory, social theory, history and cultural criticism. Unfortunately, there is no "Rothbard Reader" that gives the reader an overview of his contributions to all these fields.
Nonetheless, this collection of Rothbard's essays - which came out in 1974 - is probably the best place to start if you want to get an overview of Rothbard's contributions, at least in the areas of political theory, social theory, and (some) cultural criticism. (The second edition appears to be identical to the first edition, except that it contains a brief 1991 "postscript" by Rothbard and a useful introduction by Dr. David Gordon.)
The title essay - Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature - is a seminal essay. Politicians love to lecture us on the supposed equality of men; however, as Rothbard shows, it is inequality that is fundamental. The leftist drive for equality is contrary to human nature. Rothbard picks up this theme again in Freedom, Inequality, Primitivism, and the Division of Labor. He shows that the drive for equality is a direct attack on the division of labor. As such, it will only serve to impoverish everyone (rich and poor alike).
This collection also contains two outstanding essays on the state: The Anatomy of the State; and War, Peace, and the State. In the second, Rothbard makes a strong case for peace and against weapons of mass destruction.
There are at least three other collections of Rothbard's works available. The first -- Making Economic Sense -- is a collection of short essays on economics. The second -- The Irrepressible Rothbard -- is a collection of his essays in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report which focus on cultural criticism.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By melodius on August 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the first book by Rothbard that I read, although I was already familiar with those of his writings that can be found on the Internet.
Without always agreeing completely with Rothbard - I think he has a tendency to be somewhat too consistent at times - I have always found his work to be very funny and thought-provoking. This collection contains two truly remarkable essays: "Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature" and especially "Freedom, Inequality, Primitivism, and the Division of Labor". Rothbard actually takes the trouble to take Marxists at their word and to examine, not only the means, but also the ends. It turns out even the goals sincere Marxists fight for - as opposed to the cruel realities they have always somehow succeeded in creating - are totally at odds with human nature.
The other essays, if sometimes a tad too "American" for this European reader, live up to Rothbard's usual high standards. The only essay that I found somewhat unconvincing was "Conservation in the Free Market". Rothbard doesn't seem to have thought it important to save areas of unspoilt nature; he doesn't even examine that possibility. But then perhaps there is another essay by him somewhere in which there is an answer to that question? If so, I'm looking forward to read it!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on October 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have long used Rothbard's writing as an ideal in rhetorical mimesis exercises. He presents complicated issues with unrivalled clarity and concision. For example, in his essay "Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature," Rothbard takes on a difficult rhetorical challenge: he seeks to undercut the commonplace belief in equality. This brilliant essay combines logos and pathos in a way few authors can, as when he examines fictional accounts of true egalitarian societies:

"The horror we all instinctively feel at these stories is the intuitive recognition that men are not uniform, that the species, mankind, is uniquely characterized by a high degree of variety, diversity, differentiation; in short, inequality. An egalitarian society can only hope to achieve its goals by totalitarian methods of coercion; and, even here, we all believe and hope the human spirit of individual man will rise up and thwart any such attempts to achieve an ant-heap world. In short, the portrayal of an egalitarian society is horror fiction because, when the implications of such a world are fully spelled out, we recognize that such a world and such attempts are profoundly antihuman; being antihuman in the deepest sense, the egalitarian goal is, therefore, evil and any attempts in the direction of such a goal must be considered evil as well."

Other reviewers do an able job of explaining Rothbard's thinking; my review provides you with some idea of the emotional force of his writing. This is an important collection of essays by an important American thinker.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
The author faces and refutes simultaneously the dogmas of the old left - central planning, collectivization of economic life and State interventionism - and the fallacies of the new left - identity politics, kids lib, gender equality, environmentalism and primitivism, that one the most correct definition I've ever seen being used to characterize the movement of political correctness.
Based on Mises' thought, Rothbard reminds us a truth that is hated by all the left, old or new: our world is ruled by a natural order, transcendent and superior to the man (although perfectly knowledgeable by that one), composed by physical, biological and economical laws; consequently, her existence implies that all human action must be conducted by her strict observance, in order to avoid the disastrous and tragic consequences produced by the opposite behaviour, which is typical of the leftist policies.
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